Warrior Dad.


Earth, Sol Sector.
Terran Confederation.

The hover-train station was very busy. People were rushing to their trains or to the exits to start their day of work. They didn’t pay much attention to the man in uniform standing next to his young wife looking her in the eyes. The man wore the blue of the space forces, the bars of a lieutenant on his shoulders. On his chest near the nametag, reading “Twain”, were the wings indicating the fact he was a pilot. The man was tall and his blond hair was cut to just under regulation length. His blue eyes rested in an unremarkable clean-shaven face. He was an ordinary fellow, like many others wearing a uniform these dark years. His wife was a moderately thin woman; she looked tired as she held a baby in her arms. Her brown hair was tied back to keep it out of his reach as the young child liked to grab at it. She had lovely green eyes, with the spark of intelligence in them. They were teared up right now. Her lips were trembling as she tried not to cry. A struggle she was losing as the train came in. Her husband turned to her, having a very hard time himself while doing this.

‘God, I love you Allyson, I’m sorry I need to go’ he whispered taking her in his arms.

‘I’ll miss you, be careful, Paul, I don’t have the strength to raise our son by myself.’

Paul nodded and gave his wife and son a last goodbye kiss. He turned away abruptly not wanting to show his wife that he was crying. He got on and found his seat. His wife cradled their son, as the train pulled out of the station. He missed her already and wiped away the single tear rolling down his cheek. She was his high-school sweetheart; they married during their time in college. He loved her dearly and for the first time regretted volunteering for military service, but they needed the extra money he would make. They could pay of their study debts and give Jason a proper childhood. Being a fighter pilot brought in even more money, even though it meant he would be at the frontlines. There were other reasons; Paul simply couldn’t walk away from what he saw as his duty. The war was something he couldn’t avoid. His wife understood, but wasn’t happy. He didn’t blame her.
He sighed and tried to get comfortable on the hard chair. On a nearby screen a historian was discussing the difference between this war and those that came before it. Paul already knew; this was the first interstellar war. The humans and Kilrathi were fighting for about twenty years now, millions died in the conflict. The Kilrathi were a cat like race, originating from Kilrah. They enjoyed war, finding great honour in battles and bloodshed. The presence of another space faring race was a challenge to them and they had forced the Confederation to make war on them. Since the start of the war the humans had been outnumbered, the technical superiority of the Confederation had balanced that scale, but not without tremendous sacrifices.

Gateway System, Vega Sector.
Terran Confederation/Kilrathi Empire frontlines.

The small patrol of fighters was being pounced upon; the Confed fighters were fighting hard and fast. This was the first thing Paul noticed as he dove into the fray. His wingman smoothly followed him in. He opened up on a Kilrathi fighter, his shots passing through the shields and ripping up the fighter until it exploded.

‘Nice shooting’ someone commented over the comm.

Paul grinned inside his helmet. Keeping an eye on the fighting. The TCS Trafalgar had jumped into this system to protect the colony on Gateway 4, it was of little value strategically, but Confed lacked the means to evacuate the colonists. He heard the warning tone, and rolled his fighter away from the incoming Kilrathi trying to kill him.

‘Can anyone, help me’ he asked as the tone continued and his aft shield began being hammered.

‘I’m on it’ he heard his wingman say.

True to his word, Jason saw the Hornet flown by James Mabuto; turn sharply as he attacked the Kilrathi fighter firing on Paul. Paul felt relieved as he pulled up ton give Mabuto a clear shot. Seconds later he fighter was shuddering as the Kilrathi exploded violently.

‘Thanks’ Paul said’ feeling very relieved. His shield was very much diminished but it already was slowly regenerating. He noticed a Confed Scimitar fighter spinning helplessly out of the fight as a Krant swooped in for the kill. He swung his fighter around and opened up. From this distance he couldn’t really make a difference. Just before the Scimitar exploded the cockpit popped open. As the pilot tried to eject, the explosion fried him.

‘Die fucking Cat’ Paul yelled punching the afterburner to close on the Krant. The Kilrathi tried to evade, giving him a good view of its engine exhaust. Switching to heat-seekers quickly Paul fired. The missile flew up the Kilrathi’s tailpipe and ripped the aft section apart. Paul finished it off in style, his lasers cutting up what remained of the craft.

The fighting continued however, now centred around a group of slow moving heavy fighters on their way to bomb the colony. Paul reformed with his wingman. They’re Hornets were to light to do much good so they stayed away as the surviving Scimitars and fought the heavier Kilrathi fighters. At this distance it almost seemed like fireworks, deadly fireworks but pretty in it’s own deadly ways. Paul always felt uneasy, not being able to fight the bigger fighters. The Krant he had managed to destroy was a rarity; his Hornet was to light to take one on. His luck and the fact that he had a heat-seeker had made it possible. He asked for a transfer to a Scimitar squadron but hadn’t gotten one yet. He doubted he would get one, there was a rumour that Confed was removing these fighters from service, already they were being phased out.

‘We’ve got new bogies incoming, they’re on a direct course, five Dralthi’s’ Mabuto told his Wingleader. Mabuto was a big man, muscular and strikingly handsome. His African ancestors blood was flowing strong in his veins. He was a fair pilot, but he knew he wasn’t that good and basically lived to serve his fellow pilots as best he could. Like Paul he was married, his wife was a staff sergeant at fleet headquarters on earth. Their two sons, were well taken care of by Mabuto’s mother, his father had died at Mac Auliffe, early in the war.

Paul had noticed the incoming ships and switched his targeting computer, selecting one of them. ‘Let’s go’ he told his friend.

These defensive fights weren’t the most important things in this system. Only a quarter of the Confed fighter force was present here, half of these were from the colony garrison. The Trafalgar was trying to locate the Kilrathi Carrier group, so they could launch a decisive attack. If they managed to destroy the carrier the Kilrathi would have to forget about taking the system from Confed, at least until they could manage to bring in another Carrier.

Two more fighters joined with the two hornets as they attacked the Dralthi’s. Paul recognised them as Scimitars. The four fighters dove into the enemy formation, which broke up like a flock of startled birds. Paul followed one, but didn’t manage to get a clear shot. The Cat managed to evade him but was expertly shot down by one of the Scimitars. The fight ended with that last wing of Dralthi being shot down, but not after another Scimitar going down in flames its pilot ejecting. All in all they had done well in this fight. The cats outnumbered them, but didn’t know this area of space as well as the Human defenders, that and the sheer determination of the pilots had cost the Kilrathi dearly. Five humans had died, and seven fighters were no more. The two ejected pilots slowly drifting in space, praying for a timely rescue.

Gateway System, Vega Sector.
Terran Confederation/Kilrathi Empire frontlines.

Paul sat in the pilot’s mess nursing his apple-juice carefully. The war was taking its toll on him, he felt tired; the kind of exhaustion a month of sleep couldn’t cure. He wasn’t the only one, the continual alert status as the Trafalgar tried to hide its location while searching for the enemy carrier group, was having its effect on all the pilots and the carrier crew. Paul was alone, not being able to sleep. He missed his family, but most of all the nights with Allyson’s hair tickling his nose as they slept. The Kilrathi had been pushing into the system for days now, launching attacks on the colony and its stalwart defenders, but slowly they were losing ground. They needed a decisive attack on the enemy Carrier. A success there would give them some breathing room they might even be able to go on the offensive. He glanced out the window to the Destroyers escorting the Carrier.

‘Hey, Twain, I was looking for you’ we received the mail over the comm.’

A voice told him. Turning around he saw the Commander Air Group, Colonel Vermont carrying several small handheld displays.

‘Here’s yours, probably the wife’ Vermont said and he left to allow his pilot to read his mail. He felt it was a good thing for morale to allow the censored messages from loved ones to be sent to pilots on assignment.

Behind him Twain started reading his letter.


Let me first tell you how much I miss you, I miss your warm touch, your humour but most of all your presence. Life is hard for me, but I imagine most wartime wives feel the same way. Jason is doing well, he had a little cold but he’s over that now. He has also learned to smile and make those adorable baby noises. His grandparents’ fight over whom is to care of him while I’m working; I have them make a schedule even though Jason doesn’t seem to mind.

Paul could imagine his wife smiling as she wrote that, she often used these kind of word jokes.

He’s a great boy; he sleeps long, eats well and hardly ever cries. It’s hard to say, and I’m bias, but our son is going to be very special as he grows up, I just hope this dreadful war is over by then, so you can be with us.’

The Censor left that in, it wasn’t a comment on the way it was fought but the heartfelt wish of a lonely wife; a cat intercepting this wouldn’t see it as the Terran home front doubting the war. Or maybe, Paul realized he just missed it.

That’s about all that fits on these displays they’ve issued for us to write our letters on, I miss you and am looking forward to your leave in a few weeks.

With love,
Your Allyson.

Paul sighed deeply these letters always made him miss his wife more. He often wished that he were home with her. They had a lovely little apartment in London, perfect for a young couple. His wife was living by herself now, just another wife with a husband in the war. He looked up to see Mabuto and Alexandra Thorbecke enter the mess. Alexandra was the youngest pilot aboard, she had only recently joined the Trafalgar flight wing and like most young pilots she was eager for her first kill. She was a nice enough girl, not overly pretty. She was intelligent though and had lovely brown eyes.

‘Hey, Paul’ Mabuto greeted his Wingleader with a grin’ I thought you’d be sleeping by now.’

‘Can’t sleep, so I figure I sit here and nurse my juice.’

The others sat down across from him after getting their own drinks, from the volunteer bartender.

‘How’s the wife’ Mabuto asked him.

‘She’s fine, she misses me, our parents are making her life hell, and she hates the war.’

‘She’d be better off hating the Cat’s than the war’ Alexandra told him.

Paul shrugged. ‘Maybe, I don’t care, I just want to survive and come home to her and my son.’

‘As do I… to my wife and kids’ Mabuto acknowledged. They laughed and turned their attention to other things.

Mabuto turned to Paul. ‘I heard a rumour that command is going to replace the Scimitars.’

‘Replace them with what’ Alex wondered aloud after taking a sip from her drink.

‘I hear they’re replacing them with Rapiers, that they’re done testing them and concluded they’re ready for frontline action.’

Paul shrugged. ‘If it’s true it’s about time, the Scimitars aren’t as good as they used to be. Cat’s got them figured out.’

Alex snorted rather unladylike. ‘She’s been around since the war began, even the stupidest moron eventually learns, and the Cat’s are not stupid.’

‘Nope, although we would like them to be stupid.’ Paul said grinning.

‘We surely would, if they were our job would get a lot easier.’

They laughed again the sour mood lifting. Until Alex turned to her friends, ‘What do you think of the missions we’ve flown so far?’

‘We’re on the defensive, which never is a good thing, but the brass has us searching for their carrier once we find it we can secure this system.’

Mabuto nodded. ‘For as long as it lasts, we’ve been fighting over this sector for years, neither side manages to keep the upper hand.’

Paul shrugged, that was the nature of this war. The frontline was pretty much set in stone since the cats initial sorties into Confed space. This had to do with the defences along the border and the determination of the fleet to push back any offensives into their space. The Cat’s were just as determined to push back at Confed. The occasional system taken from the opposite side often was lost again quickly. He rose finding the conversation troubling and excused himself. He stalked of to get some rest before he had to fly again tomorrow. Luckily he had the midday patrol.

Gateway System, Vega Sector.
Terran Confederation/Kilrathi Empire frontlines.

Paul yawned and tried not to show it. The briefing was taking to long for him to feel comfortable with. He had been on alert for a long while now, flying missions almost daily. His Hornet was patched up beyond belief and they still expected him to keep flying it. He was the lucky one; Mabuto was dead. His fighter gave way under the punishment given out by a Dralthi. He could still hear Mabuto’s death scream in his head every time he closed his eyes. Nightmares filled what little time he did sleep, only this time he was the one frying in his cockpit. Alex tried to cheer him up, but she didn’t have much luck. Although he did appreciate the attempt, he had to admit that. Slowly he turned his attention to the colonel dividing the mission objectives.

‘Beta flight will engage the fighters, hit them hard gentleman.’ The colonel said. Her blue eyes stone cold in that striking face of hers. ‘Alpha will engage, the cruiser and try to take out any and all turrets, so that the Raptors can torpedo it. Once the cruiser is debris you will all fall back to the Trafalgar.’

Paul wrote it down on the notepad attached to his leg, although he didn’t have trouble remembering such things. He and Alex, who volunteered to be his wingman after Mabuto died, would be flying with Beta flight.

They had lucked out, the cruiser had apparently heaved to for some repairs it had an escort of maybe twenty fighters, but the Kilrathi battle group had indeed left him behind, not wanting to be found by the Confed patrols. This left them a gold opportunity to strike at the Kilrathi and weaken the carrier and it’s defensive fleet all in one blow.

This concluded most of the briefing and Paul relaxed again, not feeling the need to listen to the patrol and CAP assignments. When it was over he rose along with the rest to file out of the briefing room. He carried his helmet in his left hand as he walked to his Hornet. The Scimitars would launch first. The hornets would follow them and they would circle the ship as a group, while they waited for the slower Raptors to get underway.
‘It looks like I’m protecting your six again, hotshot’ Alex’ mocking voice reached him.

‘Yes, it does, I couldn’t switch anymore’ he responded with a sad half grin.

Alex grinned back at him. Glad that he at least found some remnant of his humour back. She shouted something as they stepped onto the noisy flightdeck. The catapult was launching the first Scimitar, with a roaring hiss accompanying the launch. While flight crews repaired fighters or loaded weapons onto them. People were yelling at each other to be heard. Alex turned to

‘What was that’ he yelled to her over the noise. Their heads close together to make it possible to hear each other.

‘I said’ she yelled at him’ Good Luck.’

‘You too’ Paul responded and walked to his fighter for his usual quick visual inspection. He ran his hands over her looking for stuff the ground crew could have missed. They very rarely ever missed anything. Paul didn’t know of anyone who had found one of their mistakes, possibly because they all died because of it, he thought to himself. Finding the ship satisfactory he climbed into the cockpit and strapped himself in. The chief in charge of his fighter, a young woman, checked the straps and removed the pin in the ejection seat. He tried not to think about the fact that he was now sitting on an armed rocket, with enough power to have him make a large dent in the flightdeck ceiling if it went off now.

‘Your clear, sir, good luck.’ The woman yelled jumping down recklessly to get away from his fighter.

Gateway System, Vega Sector.
Terran Confederation/Kilrathi Empire frontlines.

‘Vectoring in for our assault’ the cool calculated voice of the bomber leader reported for the sake of the escort fighters. Paul barely heard it rolling away as a Kilrathi Krant opened up on him. All around fighters were dogfighting, hard and fast. The Kilrathi were trying to get at the Raptors, which the escort fighters tried to avoid. Paul’s rolling away placed him behind a Dralthi for a moment, he selected it and fired a heat seeker, not even getting the time to see it hit as the Krant came down on him again. Using every ounce of skill he possessed, he managed to avoid its fire until a passing Scimitar shot it down. Paul sighed relieved, glancing down at his burnt out shield display. He reoriented to see where the heaviest fighting was going on.

‘Torpedo’s locking on’ a calm voice announced to the Terran fighters as they “danced” with their enemy counterparts. Another Dralthi dove in firing on a raptor but two of its escorts made short work of the brave but foolish cat trying it. Paul didn’t envy the pilots trying to deliver a torpedo into that cruisers belly. Its fighter escort had been far greater than expected but intelligence was so often wrong nobody really expected them to be right. As the raptors closed on the cruiser its flak batteries opened up. Paul stayed clear of that kind of fire, especially in this damaged fighter.

‘Torpedo’s away’ the voice sounded ecstatic and Paul knew why, with the torpedo’s safely on their way, they could pull out of their attack run, and head home, he knew if he were flying a bomber he’d feel the same way.

They didn’t have to wait long, the cruiser lit up as torpedoes exploded against it, ripping out its metallic innards. The reactor superheated with a flash and finished the cruiser off, making her an expanding cloud of debris moving away from a burned out hulk in space.

‘Yes!’ Paul heard Alexandra yell and he felt the same way, it always felt great when Kilrathi vessel blew up. As long as he didn’t think of the lost lives, cat lives but still lives. He checked his readings to see the last of the red dots, indicating enemy fighters, disappearing from his screens. It was over. Jason formed up with Alexandra, whom had suffered some damage as well.

‘One more for the books’ Jason said smiling.

‘Hell yeah’ Alex said, while she looked at the remnants of the Kilrathi cruiser. ‘Who’s buying the drinks?’

‘You are, you’re the youngest.’

‘That’s not really fair Paul’ she complained.

‘Tough, us old geezers need al the credits to support our families back home, besides I already spent my allowance.’

Alex smiled. It had been a while since Paul had spoken so cheerful. Mabuto’s death had hit him hard. She had seen him die, just as Paul had. Paul had managed to destroy the Dralthi responsible for his death even as Mabuto’s Hornet disintegrated, Mabuto screaming as he died in the cockpit. After that, Paul had been depressed and quiet. He did his job but that was it, she missed his company. ‘Alright, I’m buying’ she said’ but only the first round.’

‘You drive a hard bargain, but it’s a deal.’ After that they silently flew.

Earth, Sol Sector.
Terran Confederation.

Paul tried to relax but he was nervous as he returned on leave fro the first time in months. He had changed. He knew that. He hoped his wife could live with the changes. As the hover-train pulled into the station he rose picking up his duffel bag. He nodded at the older man, whom had engaged him in a conversation earlier and walked to the exit. His uniform sparked many different reactions. Some people just smiled as they passed with a nod. Others were reminded of loved ones that had died in the conflict, their looks were those of pain. Young boys and girls looked at him with admiration. Some asked him questions; usually about how many Cats’ he had killed. He answered them pleasantly, smiling at them. Some asked him about the ship he was on, and the fighter he flew. Others told him proudly they were going to fly when they were older. Others wanted to join the Marines. He didn’t mind, the home front was very important to the people on the front lines. Secretly he hoped that the war would be over by the time those children were old enough.

Getting off the train he looked around, he wasn’t used seeing so many civilians. Their clothes differing in colour no suit or dress seemed alike and yet some came from the same factories. He shrugged about it that was the nature of uniformed life. Except for the ground crews on the flightdeck there were very few colours on a carrier. Suddenly his eye caught sight of his wife rushing toward him. He dropped his duffle to catch her as she threw herself into his arms. They held onto each other oblivious to anything. The people passing around them; saw the uniform and took their own conclusion. Some were right others were wrong, but they didn’t care.

When they finally broke away from their hug Paul looked at his wife, marvelling in her beauty again. ‘Where’s Jason’ he asked her.

‘With my parents, they suggested it, they thought you and I might want to spent some time alone together.’ The smile that came with the sentence was both shy and naughty.

Paul smiled back at her. ‘We might go home quickly then’ he said to his beautiful wife. He picked up his duffle bag and followed her.

Earth, Sol Sector.
Terran Confederation.

It was late, to late to go pick up his son. Their reunion had taken more time then they had expected, and afterwards they had been too tired to do much of anything other than sleep. His in laws would understand. Jason would too, since Allison hadn’t told her son his father was coming, besides he was too young to understand or even recognise his father. They dressed in loving silence and went downstairs to eat. They sat across from each other. Stealing glances at each other as they ate.

‘How’s Mabuto’ she asked him. Her husband had told her about him in his letters and he seemed like someone she’d like.

Paul swallowed the last morsel and looked down at his plate, suddenly not as hungry anymore. ‘He died, I couldn’t save him.’

Allyson paled hearing that. She slowly nodded her understanding, although the reality of the war didn’t really register to her or any other civilian. She just did her hours at work, pay the wartime taxes, watched the news and saved war coupons. Off course Paul wasn’t at her side as he would have been in civilian life. The fact he could die was something she didn’t think about. If she did she’d go crazy.

‘I wrote his wife, got a letter telling me she was thankful for it and that he was proud to call me his friend.’ Paul pushed back the tears that were trying to break through. His wife crossed over and gave him a hug. They both knew his leave would be over much to soon, but they would make the best of it.

Freya System, Vega Sector.
Terran Confederation/Kilrathi Empire frontlines.

Paul landed his Hornet, sighing in relief. For the last few minutes he had been worried that the ship might fall out from under him. He had been shot up badly; he had never suffered this much damage. He wondered if anyone had and lived. As he climbed out of the cockpit he noticed his hands were shaking. His crew chief, a veteran of the first major battles, saw it and smiled reassuring. ‘This ship must really like you, sir.’

Paul forced himself to smile. ‘She and I go way back, chief, can you fix her up.’

‘Hell yeah, sir’ she grinned’ just not in time for your next sortie, it appears you’ll be sitting that one out, sir.’

‘I need the rest anyway, do your thing, chief.’

She saluted sharply keeping an eye on her team as they secured the ejection seat and the heat seeker left on the wing. Although well supplied, some pilots took care not to use all their ammunition.

Paul walked to the showers in something resembling a daze. He had never been that close to dying, now that it happened he realized how fragile his life was. He could die any day, whenever he went out there. Off course he had known that al along, having seen friends die during training and in combat, but somehow this had made it more real. Off course he could have ejected had it gone really bad, but if he pulled the handle to late then he would still die. The warm water eased his mind a little and he came out feeling human again.

Outside Alex was waiting, a smile on her face. ‘I was worried when I saw your ship trailing debris and vapour like that, Hornets aren’t designed to take the kind of punishment you put them through.’

Paul shrugged. ‘That Cat was good, very good, I couldn’t shake him.’

‘He’s space dust now, thanks to Lieutenant Henderson.’ She told him.

Paul groaned their resident rookie had saved his bacon. ‘I guess I’ll be paying his drinks tonight.’

‘He doesn’t drink’ Alex replied’ he’s the religious type.’

‘At least that’s cheap’ Paul said smiling again.

‘You can buy me a drink, I spent my allowance already.’

‘On what?’ Paul asked’ war bonds?’

‘Close’ she said smiling ‘your birthday present. So how was your wife’ Alex asked him’ and little Jason.’

‘They were fine’ Paul said smiling suddenly. He missed the pained look on Alex face. ‘Jason is developing quite a grip, I grave him a fluffy plane it has a small bell and he shakes it around a lot. Allyson is great, we spent a lot of time together, and I sometimes forget I’m not the only one missing out. She’s without a husband, most of the year. It must be tough on her as well.’

Alex listened quietly envious at both of them. From what Paul told her they were very happy. She didn’t have someone like that in her life. The last man in her life had gone to a different ship in the fleet effectively ending that relationship. She doubted she’d have a baby anytime soon, not as long as she could fly a ship. If she didn’t get seriously hurt she could keep that up until she was forty years old. Suddenly they looked up as the sirens started wailing. ‘All pilots, report to your ship, incoming enemy fighters.’ Alex turned and ran for the door, Paul was about to follow her but his fighter wasn’t in any flying condition. He rushed to flightdeck-operations. ‘I need a fighter mine is being repaired’ he yelled at the Major manning the systems there.

‘Take the Zero-one-oh-six’ the Major yelled, he was frantically trying to manage the deck, so that no launching fighter would collide with each other or those still getting into position.

Paul turned rushing to pull on his flightsuit and grabbing his helmet on the way out. The noise was deafening. The catapult roared, as did the afterburners on the fighter it launched. People in all kinds of colours, from missile loaders to technicians were running about getting things ready. Paul found his fighter, he swore seeing it was a Scimitar and climbed in. He had to strap himself in as the overworked chief removed the pins from the ejection seat. He attached his helmet to the oxygen, started the communications and waited. Due to his late arrival he was one of the last to be allowed to launch. When he did he joined up the squadron flying close in support, the Hornets and the rest were doing the long-range intercept. He could see the explosions bloom up, as fighters and ordnance blew up, still far but far to close for comfort. One of the escorting destroyers moved forward slowly to position itself between the Cats and the Trafalgar. A brave but useless gesture, with a prime target, a Carrier, only a stupid cat would expend his ammunition on a destroyer, which could be destroyed after the carrier was dead meat. Paul fell in on with another scimitar, while switching to the combat channels, to listen in on the fight while keeping an eye on his own instruments. Any Cat’s breaking through would meet a swift end at his hands, or for that matter on the hands of the other defenders. He could hear the occasional whoop on the combat-channel, as a pilot scored a kill along with barked orders to break right or left. Sometimes the shrill scream of a pilot dying in his or her cockpit could be heard. It sent shivers down Paul’s spine; he didn’t want to die like that. He heard that one would feel the flames eat away at the body before the vacuum extinguished them, then you felt the cold flood your entire being, the vacuum drawing out every molecule of air you had in you, freezing your insides on the way out. Your body reached the boiling point quickly; your eyes exploded followed moments later by your body. You died horribly but you still would have felt everything that happened. He hoped that when the end came it was with a bang, ripping his body to shreds as he went. Like most he preferred to not go at all of course. Suddenly his eyes focussed on a couple of red dots heading toward the Trafalgar at high speeds. Pushing away any bothersome thoughts he pushed the throttle. He felt uneasy not having a wingman he knew, but he knew that to be here on the frontlines the pilot would have to have some skills. It would have to do for now. As they closed on the Kilrathi fighters Paul gave his instruments a last check. They read fine and when he looked up he had the target almost in sight. His shields flared as the cat opened up at the maximum range. Paul banked right to avoid the fire and began firing himself. Peppering the shields with his mass-drivers. The cat pulled up to get out of the way displaying his red-hot tailpipe to Paul. The heat-seeker fell away from the wing and ignited, leaving a trail of vapour until it collided with the Dralthi. The explosion was spectacular.

‘This the Trafalgar, concentrate on the bombers, they’re starting their run.’

Paul swore and turned, switching between targets until he found one. Realizing the tailpipe was facing his way he fired another heat-seeker. That cat wasn’t a coward though he kept his fighter on target for his run. The missile exploded on the shields taking an engine with it but the Cat compensated. Paul opened up, using short salvo’s using the intervals to let the capacitators cool down, to lengthen the actual firing time. It worked. The bomber staggered as the shields failed, armour was chewed of at a rapid pace, until finally the fighter gave way and exploded. Paul could hear the Cats death scream, cursing him and any offspring.

Suddenly his fighter shuddered forcing him to roll away. The shuddering lessened but didn’t end. ‘Can I get some help’ he called out. He peered over his shoulders seeing a Dralthi following his every move. Suddenly he saw a missile streak away from its wing, the alarm screaming in his ears, an uncomfortable sound for a very bad situation. Paul dropped some decoys and did a sharp horizontal turn followed by a vertical role while dropping more Decoys. The alarm ended much to his relief. He saw his aggressor being attacked by another Scimitar even as the Trafalgar own defensive guns opened up. That was a clear sign he needed to get out of the way. The Scimitar pulled away as well, as the flak guns came closer to the fleeing Dralthi until a good hit ripped the fighter apart. Paul smiled selecting another target, trying to get a clear shot at the Trafalgar. He dove in opening up from long range. Leading his fire towards the heavy fighter until its shields flared up. Another Scimitar got in closer and together they finished off the fighter. ‘Yes!’ Paul exclaimed as the fighter broke up into smaller pieces.

He flew close escort while the Trafalgar fighters picked off other bombers in the distance. From his readings and peeks on the main combat channel they were winning that battle, beating down and enemy Alpha-strike. That wasn’t a small feat and if they rearmed in time they could follow these attackers to their carrier and finish it off. He smiled, with luck that would mean they secured this system. Although they weren’t part of the main offensive a victory would look nice on the mantle piece. They had taken Vega sector not to long ago, or at least the most important systems. Now it was time to consolidate or perhaps even move in on Kilrathi systems.

Freya System, Vega Sector.
Terran Confederation/Kilrathi Empire frontlines.

Paul hung tiredly in his chair; sitting up was too much trouble. Alex sat by his side, looking even worse than he did. The Trafalgar had been beaten back, even after they defeated the strike. Losses were high as half the chairs were empty. Some pilots were in sickbay others were dead, their bodies or what was left of them floating space amongst the debris of their ships. Paul had been flying almost non-stop ever since their own strike had been ambushed. His hornet, now officially scrapped. He had been given a scimitar, which was okay but it lacked manoeuvrability. Alex still had his wing even though she had to hold back the throttle during regular flight.

As the Wing Commander entered he made an attempt to rise, but didn’t even make it to his feet before he was told to relax again.

‘Settle, People’ she said. She was wearing her flightsuit, the edge charred from an ejection a few sorties ago. She wasn’t the only one here. ‘It’s crunch time, the Trafalgar is jumping back to our space, we need to defend her, up until she actually makes the jump. This will be a launch of all ships and pilots capable of fighting. So don’t get trigger-happy. Is this understood.’

The reply was almost a murmur, normally she wouldn’t have accepted that, but seeing the tired looks on her pilot’s faces. She spoke a little more, telling where the fighters would be deployed. No one really listened, some even dozed off for a few minutes. When it was over they were woken up by a few shakes and a shove. Paul woke up Alex with his elbow motioning her to follow him to the flightdeck.

‘Well, I’ll see you out there, let’s do our routine’ Paul said over the noise. He patted her on the shoulder as he walked to his Scimitar, the old warhorse ready for his trained hand. He climbed in when he noticed the familiar face of his old crew chief.

‘You done, plugging holes, chief’ he asked as he fastened his helmet and had himself being strapped in.

She looked even worse than he felt, but she managed a smile as she held up the ejection seat pins, letting him no it was armed. He held up his thumb and closed his cockpit checking the air seals. He worked off his checklist while he waited his turn in the launch sequence, he tried to always do it, but lately it had slipped his attention. Soon the catapult launched him off the deck and he took positions in the defensive line around the Trafalgar.

Once in the cockpit most pilots quickly regained their usual awareness. They stared out into space looking for targets to pick up, afraid to miss any. Those that had trouble spoke to their wingmen or let themselves be talked to. When action came adrenaline surged through them making sure they were ready.

Action came al-right. A full scale Kilrathi strike force came at them. The Trafalgar for all it’s speed was way to slow to out run them and the Fighters sped up to stop them outside of torpedo range, until the jump could be made.

Paul fired its weapons into the shield of a Cat fighter, seeing them flare up under the punishment. Some broke through the shields eating away at the armour and electronics behind it. He swore, as he had to avoid another furball running from another Terran, losing his target. His fighter shuddered suddenly as she was being hit by enemy fire, as he searched for the threat he finally saw it. It was a Cat torpedo bomber’s aft turret. Swooping around for the kill he launched a heat-seeker. With an unpleasant grin he saw it fly up the bombers tailpipe and rip it apart. For a short moment he wondered who had take care of the shield for him.

It was cut short, as the Trafalgar came through on the comm. ‘Al fighters return to base, we’re preparing for jump.’ Paul breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that. He turned his fighter expertly around, firing on a Dralthi as it shot past. ‘Follow me, Alex’ he ordered.

As they flew back Paul noticed a group of bombers sneaking up on the Trafalgar, no one had seen them yet and their attack run would be a success as they were very close to their optimum range. Paul swore and clicked the comm. to Alex channel. ‘Keep going, I’m right behind you.’ It was a lie, if he did this he would be left behind. He wouldn’t make it back in time.

He left her wing, pushing the afterburner to full speed. He closed rapidly on the bombers they grew in his sights as he opened up on them. He fired in short bursts trying to squeeze as much power out of his guns as he could. Still he could see the capacitors going to the red. He switched to his Dumbfires lining them up on the bombers, which were getting close quickly. He fired the first one, then lined up again on another bomber. The heavy missile without so much a targeting computer slammed into one of the bombers and it blew up. The explosion startled the otherwise calm Cat pilots, they scattered losing their lock on the Trafalgar.

‘Yes’ Paul roared in triumph even as his cockpit lit up in the flash of an opening jump point. The Trafalgar had jumped, leaving him behind. He said a little prayer for his wife and son as he turned his fighter around in a lazy loop. Closing in on him fast were the vengeful surviving Cat’s. He grimaced and switched his targeting computer to the closest attacker. ‘Come and get me’ he said into his helmet. He saw the Cat’s open up on him, two or three missiles streaking right at him. They slammed into his fighter one after the other, shredding it and its occupant to bits.

The END!
:) WOW!... That was good! :cool: Have you made any other? Are you planing to make another?

I can only tell you to keep an eye for the little mistakes in the writing, like confusing "to" with "too"; but you can use "word" for that.

By the way, you cool have shown Mabuto’s dead...

Otherwise, it was VERY cool! :D